Don’t Hold Back Now…Serious Funny Bones

Epitaphs aren’t just funny or sad – they can also be quite damning. In our time where cost and legal actions prohibit lengthy soapboxing (no small mercy considering what Bill Clinton or Rush Limbaugh would say), earlier tombstones felt no such need in that pre-litigious age.

This Funny Bones posting showcases some of Janet Greene’s more sobering finds from her book Epitaphs to Remember: Remarkable Inscriptions from New England Gravestones.

Located in Wethersfield, CT

“Here lies interred Mrs. Lydia Beadle, aged 32 years and,

Ansell, Lothrop, Elizabeth, Lydia and Mary Beadle,

Her children the eldest aged 11 and the youngest 6 years

Who on the morning of the 11th day of December, 1782

Fell by the hands of William Beadle

An infatuated Man who closed the horrid sacrifice of his wife

And children with his own destruction.”

 Located in Pelham, MA

 Warren Gibbs, died by arsenic poisoning Mar. 23, 1860

Aged 36 yrs. 5 mos. 23 days

“Think my friends when this you see

How my wife has done for me

She in some oysters did prepare

Some poison for my lot and fare

Then of the same I did partake

And Nature yielded to its fate.

Before she my wife became

Mary Felton was her name.”


Located in Stanstead, Quebec,

an anti-war protestor who fled to Canada during the Civil War:

“He went into voluntary banishment from his

Beloved native country during the reigning terror

In the third year of the misrule of

Abraham the First.”

Located in Hardwick, VT

Willie Marshall: 1872-1944

His wife Delia Longe, 1876 –

“She always did her best…He never did.”

The epitaph of an atheist: John L. Jones

Born 1811- Died 1875

“I came without my own consent.

Lived a few years much discontent,

At human errors grieving.

I ruled myself by reason’s laws,

But got contempt and not applause

Because of disbelieving.

For nothing me could e’er convert

To faith some people did asset

Alone could gain salvation.

But now the grass does me enclose

The superstitious will suppose

I’m doomed to Hell’s damnation.

But as to that they do not know;

Opinions oft from ignorance flow,

Devoid of some foundation.

Tis easy men should be deceived

When anything by them’s believed

Without a demonstration.”

Located in New Haven, CT

 “In memory of Samuel Barns

Son of Mr. Samuel Barns and Mrs. Welthy Barns

Whose death was occasioned by

A scald from a tea pot

March 27th, 1794, aged 7 months.”

Located in Winslow ME

 “In memory of B. Wood

Departed this life

Nov. 2, 1837

Aged 45 yrs.

“Here lies one Wood

Enclosed in wood

One Wood

Within another.

The outer wood

Is very good:

We cannot praise

The other.”

2 graves located in the same cemetery in New Boston, NH


Daughter of George and Sarah Jones

Murdered by Henry N. Sargent

Jan. 13, 1854

Age 17 yrs & 9 mos.

Thus fell this lovely blooming daughter

By the revengeful hand – a malicious Henry

When on her way to school he met her and with a six self cocked pistol shot her.”


“Henry N.

Son of Daniel and Charlotte Sargent

Died Jan. 13, 1854

Age 23 years & 5 mos.

Murderer of Sevilla Jones.”



Filed under Commentary, Humor

2 responses to “Don’t Hold Back Now…Serious Funny Bones

  1. Iris Fields

    The John L. Jones atheist epitaph exists in the town of Ripley, ME at the local cemetery, on a tall obelisk memorial stone.

  2. Larry Worden

    It also has a typo. The phrase actually reads “but now the grave (not the grass)does me inclose.”

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